Other Health Impairment is one of the 14 categories of disability listed in our nation’s special education law, the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). Under IDEA, a child who has an “other health impairment” is very likely to be eligible for special services to help the child address his or her educational, developmental, and functional needs resulting from the disability.
The law lists examples of health-related conditions that may qualify a child for special education. The conditions that are mentioned are: attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, diabetes, epilepsy, heart conditions, hemophilia, lead poisoning, leukemia, nephritis, rheumatic fever, sickle cell anemia, and Tourette Syndrome.
What’s immediately clear from this definition is that there are quite a few disabilities and disorders that fall under the umbrella of other health impairment. And those disabilities are very different from one another which makes it difficult to summarize OHI.
Also note that IDEA’s definition uses the phrase “such as…” That’s significant. It means that the disabilities listed are not the only ones that may be considered when a child’s eligibility for special services under IDEA is decided. A child with another health impairment (one not listed in IDEA’s definition) may be found eligible for special services and assistance. What’s central to all the disabilities falling under Other Health Impairment is that the child must have:
- limited strength, vitality, or alertness due to chronic health problems; and
- educational performance that is negatively affected as a result.
It’s important to keep in mind, even if your child has ADHD, for instance, it doesn’t mean automatic qualification for an IEP. In order to qualify for special education, a student must meet the three prongs of eligibility:
- The student has one of the identified disability categories as outlined in the Utah Special Education Rules. (The requirements and methods for determination under each category are extensively defined in the Rules and vary from category to category.)
- The disability must adversely affect the student’s educational performance. (Remember that educational performance includes all of the school program and not just academics.)
- The student requires special education and related services.
Utah’s Special Education Rules, pages 45-46, defines Other Health Impairment as “having limited strength, vitality, or alertness, including a heightened alertness to environmental stimuli, that results in limited alertness with respect to the educational environment, that is due to chronic or acute health problems such as asthma, attention deficit disorder or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, diabetes, epilepsy, a heart condition, hemophilia, lead poisoning, leukemia, nephritis, rheumatic fever, sickle cell anemia, Tourette syndrome, and HIV/AIDS, or an acquired brain injury which may result from health problems such as an hypoxic event, encephalitis, meningitis, brain tumor, or stroke, and that adversely affects a student’s educational performance.”
Portions of this information are adapted from the National Dissemination Center for Children with Disabilities (NICHCY)archives.
It’s very helpful to read more about other health impairments. The following are links to additional information:
Understood is an excellent resource for information on learning disabilities and attention disorders. This particular page on the site discusses ADHD symptoms, resources, videos and other helpful information.
Children and Adults with Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (CHADD), is a national non-profit, tax-exempt [Section 501(c)(3)] organization providing education, advocacy and support for individuals with ADHD. In addition to our informative website, CHADD also publishes a variety of printed materials to keep members and professionals current on research advances, medications and treatments affecting individuals with ADHD. These materials include Attention magazine, Attention weekly, a free electronically mailed current events newsletter, as well as other publications of specific interest to educators, professionals and parents.
The CDC has a wide ranging list of diseases and disabilities and includes information, current research, interventions and causes.
Lead exposure can lead to learning deficits. This fact sheet produced by the Office of Education discusses lead exposure and includes interventions to be used by parents, schools and organizations.
The Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation has information about Type 1 diabetes, ongoing research, funding, support and resources and kits for the newly diagnosed.
Safe at School: On this particular page of this site, the nonprofit has put together ideas and resources for children with diabetes to remain safe and manage diabetes at school.
These are two excellent sources of information provided by the American Cancer Society, giving parents information about school and cancer.
Founded in 1972, The Tourette Association of America (formerly known as the Tourette Syndrome Association) has emerged as the premier national non-profit organization working to make life better for all people affected by Tourette and Tic Disorders. There is information provided for parents about how to advocate for their child, how teachers can work with students with Tourette Syndrome, and may other helps.
The Center For Disease Control has several articles about lead poisoning, including this list of things parents can do to help reduce lead exposure. Lead poisoning can cause a variety of physical and learning disorders.
Project IDEAL in Action is a project of the Texas Council for Developmental Disabilities and has a variety of information on disabilities and accommodations.